24 December 2007

The twelve days of Christmas

Not many people these days know that the twelve days of Christmas, from the song of the same name, *begin *on Christmas day and go until Epiphany on January 6. Of course, I considered myself one of the enlightened few, always keeping my holiday lights on in the evenings days after others had already removed them from the house. So when I explained this to my daughter, she naturally asked me, "What's Epiphany, Dad?" To which I said, of course, "Um... I'm not really sure. I'll have to look it up." Leave it to a 5-year-old to expose your long undiscovered gaps in knowledge. Oh, and I'm not going to try to explain it here. It's really quite complicated, and Wikipedia does a better job than I could.

But this post is really about something else. Namely, why many of you on our Christmas card list will be receiving yours even later than usual this year. I had intended to mail them this morning. But after the two-year-old daughter woke up at 3 AM with repeated trips to the bathroom, laundry room, and back (I'll spare you the details, but this went on for hours and eventually she slept intermittently on the bathroom floor with her mom), the trip to the post office was postponed. Later, about 1:30 pm actually, I found out that a) the local snail mail office closed at noon, and b) the stamp machine doesn't dispense 1 or 2-cent stamps, which I needed since there were already stamps from 2005 on most of the cards...

But there is still time for you to receive your requisite holiday greeting from us within the 12-day window. Merry Christmas!

17 December 2007

Fall Photos

I thought it was time to post a couple of new photos. We have one Audrey picked of herself and her sister for her own Floam photo frame, one at the pumpkin patch (Fredrickson's), and one of me with the kids on Halloween before they took me to the airport to leave town. :(

14 December 2007

Letter to the Editor

Here is a letter I sent to the Editors of the Joplin Globe in September. Not only did they not print it, they never acknowledged that I sent it. I sent it twice just in case, but never heard from the Globe.

Dear Editors,

There you go again, Globe Editors. In your "In our view" editorial, "Hope where none existed," (Sep. 5, 2005), you refer to the wonderful, heartwarming, perhaps miraculous story of six-year-old Rylea Bartlett, who was born blind, but whose sight was partially restored after receiving stem-cell transplants from umbilical cords. But then your true colors show.

Referring to opponents of embryonic (not umbilical cord) stem cell research, you state, "We don’t fault those who follow their consciences, but we think that they are caught in between rapid advances in medical science that have outpaced medical ethics and public understanding." In effect, what you are saying is that we the public are too ignorant to know what is good for us. You go on to once again push your agenda, claiming that the best hope for those suffering from various unnamed maladies that reduce quality or duration of life is "somatic cell nuclear transfer research here in Missouri." Non sequitur!

Well, the public is not so ignorant as you seem to think. We understand that the creation of human beings (embryos) by the process you so single-mindedly promote, only to destroy them in the hope that others' suffering might be decreased is and forever will be unacceptable. And furthermore, as Rylea's story shows, treatments are being developed utilizing stem cells that do not involve violating this ethical deadline. Wouldn't the wise, compassionate course of action be to hold off on somatic cell nuclear transfer? There is plenty of hope for treatments arising from research using non-embryonic stem cells and from other related techniques under development. I predict that the "need" for embryonic stem cells for medical research will be fleeting. Let's wait and see.


Why is the media trying to force legalized human cloning?

Since the beginnings of the stem cell research debate, I have argued that somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), the technique used to clone Dolly the sheep and numerous other animals since, is unnecessary. Why? Not because adult stem cells are underutilized (which they are) or because the research shows no promise of helping treat or cure disease (which it does), but because I predict that soon, researchers will be able to overcome the obstacles that prevent reprogramming cells to perform other functions, and the production and destruction of human life in the form of embryos will simply be unnecessary. The article quoted below from www.nocloning.org seems to show that that day may be closer than even I thought.

Creator of Dolly the Sheep Abandons Human Cloning in favor of More Promising Research

Professor Ian Wilmut Believes Cures More Likely to be Found Without Human Cloning

ST. LOUIS, MO - In news that "could mark the beginning of the end" for the human cloning procedure promoted by the Stowers Institute and other human cloning supporters in Missouri, the London based Telegraph is reporting that the creator of Dolly the Sheep has decided to abandon the cloning technique he helped pioneer in favor of more promising stem cell research.

The Telegraph reports: "Prof [Ian] Wilmut, who works at Edinburgh University, believes a rival method pioneered in Japan has better potential for making human embryonic cells which can be used to grow a patient's own cells and tissues for a vast range of treatments, from treating strokes to heart attacks and Parkinson's, and will be less controversial than the Dolly method known as 'nuclear transfer.'" (www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2007/11/16/scidolly116.xml&page=1)

"Today's news serves as a wake-up call to Missouri citizens. One of the most respected scientists in the field has decided to abandon human cloning experiments because new developments in stem cell research hold more potential for cures and treatments," said Jaci Winship, Executive Director of Missourians Against Human Cloning. "This validates what all of us who support the Cures Without Cloning Initiative have clearly stated - human cloning is unethical, unproven and unnecessary."

Winship went on to challenge the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures to abandon human cloning and support the wide spectrum of truly promising stem cell research.

"Human cloning just doesn't offer the promise to find new cures that its supporters contend," Winship said. We applaud Professor Wilmut for his foresight and wisdom in ignoring the hype and focusing on stem cell research that holds true promise. We hope this helps pull the wool from the eyes of those who have been misled about human cloning experiments."

Missourians Against Human Cloning is part of a broad-based, statewide coalition of grassroots organizations committed to prohibiting the cloning of human beings in Missouri. Interested citizens are invited to visit www.nocloning.org for more information.

Resurrecting the blog

So, I've decided to resurrect the blog once again. For my first new post, I'm copying a news item from last month. Well, that will actually be my second new post (coming up next)... I've also added a link to the MAHC (Missourians Against Human Cloning) website.